Feb 18

New obelisk app | AAG presenters | Peirce Lewis


obelisk app

Pictured above, a screen shot of the Obelisk Experience Obelisk augmented-reality app from a demo video. Read the news story below. Last week’s mystery photo from Rob Brooks was out-of-focus air bubbles in a running stream, with sunlight reflecting through them from a mirror placed underwater.


Alex Klippel is co-PI on a seed grant funded by the Center for Security Research and Education. The project is titled, “The Extinction of Dominion,” and is an interdisciplinary project that combines deep anthropological scholarship on Colombia’s armed conflict and state of the art geospatial and data visualization techniques to analyze the legal category of the “extinction of dominion.” PI is Alex Fattal from the Bellisario College of Communications.

Nari Senanayake has accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky.

Joshua Inwood participated in the first-ever “Rock the News” podcast about everyday ethics.

Rob Brooks and 3 geography graduate students, Bill Limpisathian, Tara Mazurczyk, and Elena Sava, plus Tim Gould from Ecology, and colleague Bill Mitsch published a paper in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, “Does the Ohio River Flow All the Way to New Orleans?” – a humorous look at naming rivers.


Coffee Hour schedule
Coffee Hour takes a brief hiatus this week and next due to spring break, March 4–10. When we return, the schedule includes the following:

  • March 16: Grad Lightening Talks
  • March 23: Kendra McSweeney
  • March 30: UROC talks
  • April 6: Randall F. Mason
  • April 20: The Miller Lecture: Ariel Anbar


Student Scholarship Opportunity for Esri-MUG Spring Meeting
The Esri Mid-Atlantic User Group (Esri-MUG) is looking for enthusiastic students or recent graduates who are seeking GIS employment to attend and present at the Esri-MUG Spring Meeting. This year, the Esri-MUG Spring Meeting will be held at The Universities at Shady Grove in Shady Grove, MD, on April 20, 2018. The general format of the meeting will include a plenary presentation in the morning with updates from Esri on the latest technology followed by breakout sessions with user presentations. We hope that representatives from your institution will participate! Registration page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mid-atlantic-user-group-meeting-tickets-43217117562

We are asking professors and department chairs of geography, GIS, and other related disciplines from various Mid-Atlantic colleges and universities to distribute the forms (MUG Scholarship Letter and Student Scholarship Application) to their colleagues and students within the applicable GIS program area to help generate awareness of this opportunity. Up to four (4) student scholarships will be awarded based on the responses on this form. The chosen students will be awarded a $100 scholarship to cover travel, lodging and food expenses! We are asking that these forms be completed and submitted no later than March 16, 2018. Students will be notified of their selection by March 30, 2018.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Sue Hoegberg at 703-849-0419 or shoegberg@dewberry.com.

Many geographers presenting at AAG 2017
More than 70 Penn Staters, including students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty, and staff are participating in the AAG annual meeting in New Orleans.
Among the highlights:
• Several online geospatial program MGIS students will be giving their capstone presentations during the meeting.
• The Penn State Geography Alumni and Friends reception is planned for Thursday, April 12, at 7:00 p.m. at Napolean House, New Orleans

Spreadsheet on Box with all Penn Staters and their sessions
Please let us know if we missed you!

More AAG program information

Augmented reality app reveals campus monument’s history as teaching tool
Augmented reality is reviving the educational focus of the oldest monument on Penn State’s University Park campus. Known as the Obelisk, the nearly 33-foot-tall, 53.4-ton stone structure was originally constructed in 1896 to showcase regional rocks and minerals. Its 281 stones, procured from sites around Pennsylvania and neighboring states, are stacked by geologic time period, from youngest at the top to oldest at the base.

Now, anyone with a new Obelisk augmented-reality app, developed by researchers in the Department of Geography, can home in on details about each stone in the historic structure.

Excerpted from the Centre Daily Times Obituary
Geography professor emeritus Peirce F. Lewis has died
Peirce F. Lewis, 90, died at Mount Nittany Medical Center, State College, on February 18, 2018. He was born on October 26, 1927, in Detroit, Mich., and is the son of the late Peirce and Amy Fee Lewis, of Pleasant Ridge. Mich. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Felicia L. Lewis, of State College; his son, Hugh G. Lewis and his wife, Joselyn, of Gettysburg; his three granddaughters, Gillian Desonier-Lewis and Isla and Raquel Lewis; his sister, Frances Lewis Stevenson, and her husband, John, of St. Augustine, Fla.; and his beloved nephews and niece….

… Peirce joined the faculty of Penn State University’s Geography Department where he taught from 1958 until his retirement in 1995. Peirce loved everything about geography and revelled in any opportunity to share his enthusiasm for the subject with others. His acclaim as a lecturer and essayist is widely acknowledged by students and colleagues alike. His writings have received awards from the Association of American Geographers and the International Geographical Union. In 2004, he won the J. B. Jackson Award for his book, New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape. He gave invited lectures for more than 100 audiences around the country, both academic and public. He was a visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley, and at Michigan State University. He received several awards for his vibrant and engaging approaches to teaching geography, including the Lindback Foundation Award, Penn State’s highest award for distinguished teaching, the first Penn State Provost’s award for distinguished multidisciplinary teaching, and a national award as a distinguished teacher at the college level by the National Council for Geographic Education.


U.S. highways speak: How roadside development provides a biography
Wayne Brew (’81)
in the Handbook of the Changing World Language Map edited by Stanley Brunn and Roland Kehrein and published by Springer
Not to get mixed up with the cliché, “the road is calling,” the title of this chapter is designed to declare that the highway does speak to us if you know the language. Once you know this visual language, the roadside can provide a biography. Domestic and commercial architecture are to the cultural landscape what fossils are to the geologist, namely of way of dating when structures were built. This becomes a powerful tool that allows the reader to peel back the layers and gain an understanding of sequence. When buildings are updated or repurposed it also tells a story, providing a glimpse to see the evolution of the roadside. The generally accepted term for this, adaptive reuse, documents how humans adapt their buildings to the constantly changing economic and cultural environments the road finds itself in, sometimes leaving behind ruins implying a force that biologists once referred to as survival of the fittest. In this chapter, the author will discuss how to interpret the language spoken by the cultural landscape as it relates to the first generation of interstate highways that were built from the 1920s to the early 1950s. The first-generation interstates implemented existing local (county and state) roads to create a numbered system of through roads across state lines. The advent of limited access interstate highways then relegated the first-generation interstate highways back to local roads with a new purpose. Images of domestic and commercial architecture will be the main tools used to interpret the language of the highway. Signage, adaptive reuse, along with regional and local names of the highways will also be discussed to flesh out the biography.

Visually-Enabled Active Deep Learning for (Geo) Text and Image Classification: A Review
Liping Yang, Alan M. MacEachren, Prasenjit Mitra and Teresa Onorati
International Journal of Geo-Information
This paper investigates recent research on active learning for (geo) text and image classification, with an emphasis on methods that combine visual analytics and/or deep learning. Deep learning has attracted substantial attention across many domains of science and practice, because it can find intricate patterns in big data; but successful application of the methods requires a big set of labeled data. Active learning, which has the potential to address the data labeling challenge, has already had success in geospatial applications such as trajectory classification from movement data and (geo) text and image classification. This review is intended to be particularly relevant for extension of these methods to GISience, to support work in domains such as geographic information retrieval from text and image repositories, interpretation of spatial language, and related geo-semantics challenges. Specifically, to provide a structure for leveraging recent advances, we group the relevant work into five categories: active learning, visual analytics, active learning with visual analytics, active deep learning, plus GIScience and Remote Sensing (RS) using active learning and active deep learning. Each category is exemplified by recent influential work. Based on this framing and our systematic review of key research, we then discuss some of the main challenges of integrating active learning with visual analytics and deep learning, and point out research opportunities from technical and application perspectives—for application-based opportunities, with emphasis on those that address big data with geospatial components.


Feb 18

Coffee hour with Lorraine Dowler and Jenna Christian | Google internship | Geographers get IEE grants


mystery photo

A mystery photo from Rob Brooks. Do you know what this is? If so, send your guess to geography@psu.edu by 5:00 p.m., February 20.


  • William Easterling III, professor of geography and former dean of EMS, has been elected 2018 Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS).
  • Eden Kinkaid has had an article accepted for publication in GeoHumanities. The title of the article is “Envisioning otherwise: Queering visuality and space in Lefebvre’s Production of Space.”
  • Eden Kinkaid and Lise Nelson have a book chapter forthcoming in The Routledge International Handbook of Gender and Feminist Geographies. The chapter is entitled “On the subject of performativity: Judith Butler’s influence in geography.”
  • The GIS Coalition will meet—starting today— on the third Wednesday of each month, 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. in 229 Walker Building.
  • SWIG is now accepting nominations for the Nancy Brown Geography Community Service Award. The award recognizes students who are involved in service in the department and the community, particularly in ways that go unrecognized while students complete their degrees. Email nominations by Friday, March 2 to LUF7@psu.edu.


Coffee Hour with Lorraine Dowler and Jenna Christian: Landscapes of Impunity and the Deaths of LaVena Johnson and Sandra Bland
On July 19, 2005, Army Private First Class Lavena Johnson died in Balad, Iraq, just eight days shy of her twentieth birthday. On July 13, 2015, almost twenty years later, twenty-eight-year-old Sandra Bland’s life came to an abrupt end in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas. Both women’s deaths were ruled suicides, and both women’s families and friends reject these judgments. Instead, the they insinuate foul play by the state, which directly governed the militarized spaces within which the women both died. At first glance, these women appear to have had very different life trajectories, one a United States soldier and the other a Black Lives Matter activist. However, in both of their cases, the ruling of the suspicious deaths as suicides illustrates the state’s attempt to render their deaths banal, and thereby diminish the state’s own culpability in producing both the shocking, immediate deadly outcomes, as well as the slower undergirding conditions of racial and gendered violence that made their deaths possible. In examining the relationship between the highly visible, rapidness of violent death and other overlooked, routine forms of state violence, this paper proposes new directions for political geography’s engagement with critical geographic insights of relationality and describes how, as feminist geographers, we can contribute to a more robust understanding of care’s political possibilities. Specifically, in understanding the unremitting acts of violence, on women’s bodies, especially women of color, this talk focuses on the interdependent nature of care and vulnerability.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.: Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.; the lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  • Coffee Hour To Go webcast


Graduate student leverages geography, coding skills to land Google internship
Like many geography students, Xi Liu has a strong interest in mapping and using geographical data to solve problems. So when he saw an opportunity to work for Google on a project that involved geographical data analysis, he wasted no time in applying.

Liu, a doctoral student in geography, was accepted into a highly competitive software engineering internship program in Google’s Seattle office during the summer of 2017, and the experience showed him just how integral geographic data are for the industry giant’s products and services.

Interdisciplinary projects awarded seed grants from IEE
Several geographers are recipients
The 2017–18 Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) seed grant recipients have recently been awarded to 16 groups of interdisciplinary researchers at Penn State.

IEE established the Seed Grant Program in 2013 to foster basic and applied research addressing four of IEE’s five research themes: Climate and Ecosystem Change, Future Energy Supply, Smart Energy Systems, and Water and Biogeochemical Cycles. The fifth, Human Health and the Environment, has a separate call for proposals and these grants will be awarded later in the year.

from Trajectory Magazine
Individual Core Geospatial Knowledge in the U.S.
The geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) discipline has arrived at an inflection point where its teaching methods must be changed. Adaptive learning can improve the learning of core geospatial knowledge which is essential for the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) with the work of humans. With increasing amounts of geospatial and imagery data, organizations may leverage AI in the image and data processing environment and then rely on the cognitive capabilities of GEOINT analysts to perform geospatial analysis and problem-solving. Compared to the United Kingdom, the United States GEOINT Community contains a pool of talent with widely varied education and backgrounds. UK education focuses more on essential core geospatial knowledge, thus new prospective students may see GEOINT as a career path earlier on. In the U.S., students may not be aware of GEOINT until discovered through military service or later in their career path.

PennDOT Begins Process to Update Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, Seeks Public Feedback
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, (PennDOT) today announced that it has begun the process of updating the Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and is inviting the public to weigh in through an online survey.

The plan, last updated in 2007, will outline a vision and framework for improving conditions for walking and bicycling across Pennsylvania, especially for those Pennsylvanians who walk and bicycle out of necessity rather than for leisure and recreation.

Over the next 18 months, PennDOT will use the project website to provide information on the department’s progress. The community survey also will be accessible on the site and will play a critical role in understanding the current issues and challenges facing people who walk and bike across Pennsylvania.


Against the Evils of Democracy: Fighting Forced Disappearance and Neoliberal Terror in Mexico
Melissa W. Wright
Annals of the American Association of Geographers Vol. 108, Iss. 2, 2018
Pages: 327-336 | DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2017.1365584
On 26 September 2014, Mexican police forces in Iguala, Guerrero, attacked and abducted four dozen students known as normalistas (student teachers); some were killed on the spot and the rest were never seen again. Within and beyond Mexico, rights activists immediately raised the alarm that the normalistas had joined the country’s growing population of “the disappeared,” now numbering more than 28,000 over the last decade. In this article, I draw from a growing scholarship within and beyond critical geography that explores forced disappearance as a set of governing practices that shed insight into contemporary democracies and into struggles for constructing more just worlds.

Praxis in the City: Care and (Re)Injury in Belfast and Orumiyeh
Lorraine Dowler & A. Marie Ranjbar
Annals of the American Association of Geographers Vol. 108, Iss. 2, 2018
Pages: 434-444 | DOI: 10.1080/24694452.2017.1392843
This article builds on the geographic literature of nonviolence with the feminist literature of care ethics and positive security to explore the potential for a praxis that promotes relational urban social justice. We examine two cities—Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Orumiyeh, Iran—that have historically endured political struggles that continue to undermine the quality of urban life. We analyze vulnerability to political, environmental, and infrastructural violence in these two urban landscapes with an eye toward “just praxis” and “positive security,” as we outline the ways in which Belfast and Orumiyeh are reinjured by institutional practices that purportedly seek urban social justice. First, we argue for the importance of care praxis in the light of the entanglement of a murder investigation with the Boston College oral history program “The Belfast Project,” which recorded testimony from former and current members of paramilitary groups. Second, we examine an environmental justice movement in Orumiyeh, where activists navigate a contested political terrain shaped by state violence toward ethnic minorities and punitive economic sanctions from the international community.


Feb 18

Coffee hour with Dennis Whigham | ICS workshops | MGIS alum at Olympics


splinter Valentines Day

Splinter, a beaver and unofficial mascot of Riparia, and the fabulous Miss Squirrel are dressed up for Valentine’s Day to show their love of wetlands.


• MGIS student Nate Wanner published his capstone project in The Ohio Journal of Science. “Background Concentrations of Arsenic in Ohio Soils: Sources and Influencing Factors”
Angela Rogers was admitted into the doctoral program in Workforce Education and Development at Penn State starting fall 2018.


Coffee Hour: with Dennis Whigham: Linking watersheds, wetlands, headwater streams and juvenile salmon—Kenai Lowlands, Alaska
Alaska is known for salmon and the linkage between returning salmon and nutrients cycling in streams and riparian habitats has been demonstrated and is known as “marine derived nutrients.” This interdisciplinary project focusses on linkages between watersheds and first order streams that are upstream of the areas influenced by returning salmon carcasses.

  • 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.: Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m.; the lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.
  •  Due to a technical problem, last week’s Coffee Hour was not recorded. A Mediasite link will be shared when the problem is resolved and we can again record and webcast the lecture.


Institute for CyberScience to hold data visualization workshops
The Institute for CyberScience (ICS) will be holding a series of monthly workshops on creating static and interactive data visualizations. The first workshop will be held at 4–5:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 in 101 Althouse Laboratory.

These free workshops are open to researchers and students who wish to create their own graphics from a variety of data sources. Discussions will typically focus on making projects with D3.js, an open-source JavaScript library for data visualization, or general best practices in visualization design.

Penn State alumnus to help oversee athlete, visitor safety during Olympics
A Penn State World Campus alumnus will head to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, this month to help oversee the safety of athletes, spectators and visitors.

Parrish Henderson is the lead of the FBI’s geospatial team, which will provide real-time situation awareness using mapping and other interactive tools.


The potential contributions of geographic information science to the study of social determinants of health in Iran
Hamidreza Rabiei-Dastjerdi, Stephen A Matthews
Journal of Education and Health Promotion
DOI: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_106_17
Recent interest in the social determinants of health (SDOH) and the effects of neighborhood contexts on individual health and well-being has grown exponentially. In this brief communication, we describe recent developments in both analytical perspectives and methods that have opened up new opportunities for researchers interested in exploring neighborhoods and health research within a SDOH framework. We focus specifically on recent advances in geographic information science, statistical methods, and spatial analytical tools. We close with a discussion of how these recent developments have the potential to enhance SDOH research in Iran.

Feb 18

Coffee hour with Jacob Chakareski | Map sessions at Libraries | Baka talks frack

safecast DOE radiation maps

Carolynne Hultquist and Guideo Cervone created these maps showing the radiation measurements collected by citizens (via Safecast) and by the U. S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration after the March 2011 Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster. Safecast is a volunteered geographic information (VGI) project where the lay public uses hand-held and hand-assembled sensors to collect radiation measurements. The study found that the two data sets were highly correlated, and this high correlation makes Safecast a viable data source for detecting and monitoring radiation. Read more.


  • Today—Jennifer Baka presents “Knowledge Cartographies: Evaluating Competing Knowledge Discourses in the U.S. Hydraulic Fracturing Rulemaking” at 4:00 p.m. in 022 Deike Building. A pre-talk coffee & cookies speaker reception takes place at 3:45 in the EMS Museum on the ground floor of Deike Building.
  • Alex Klippel and Ping Li (Department of Psychology) are participating in a new project, “Language Training in a Virtual World,” funded by the Swedish Research Council. Alex is looking forward to more visits to the old world.
  • February 2 was World Wetlands Day http://www.worldwetlandsday.org/


Coffee Hour: Jacob Chakareski “Drone IoT Networks for Virtual Human Teleportation”
Cyber‐physical/human systems (CPS/CHS) are set to play an increasingly visible role in our lives, advancing research and technology across diverse disciplines. I am exploring novel synergies between three emerging CPS/CHS technologies of prospectively broad societal impact, virtual/augmented reality(VR/AR), the Internet of Things (IoT), and autonomous micro‐aerial robots (UAVs). My long‐term research objective is UAV‐IoT‐deployed ubiquitous VR/AR immersive communication that can enable virtual human teleportation to any corner of the world. Thereby, we can achieve a broad range of technological and societal advances that will enhance energy conservation, quality of life, and the global economy.


University Libraries offer maps and geospatial information sessions in February
On Wednesdays this February, and one in March, Penn State University Libraries will offer informational sessions relating to foundational map and geospatial topics. The sessions, which do not require registration, are open to all Penn State students, staff, faculty and visitors, and remote viewing is available online using Zoom. In addition, one-on-one map and geospatial research consultations are available through the Penn State Libraries Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information.

Data driven dialogue: Scientists bring groups together on water quality concerns
It’s been a decade since the start of the Marcellus Shale gas boom in Pennsylvania, and today more than 10,000 unconventional gas wells dot the state’s hills and valleys.

The industry’s rapid development created economic opportunities for many, but also brought environmental concerns, and sometimes led to contentious conversations.


“It is the innocence which constitutes the crime”: Political geographies of white supremacy, the construction of white innocence, and the Flint water crisis.
Inwood J.F.J.
Geography Compass. 2018;e12361.
Using the Flint, Michigan water crisis as a backdrop, this review piece explores the concept of white innocence. The concept of white innocence presents us with an analytic tool to understand the frustrating endurance of white supremacy within the U.S. settler state and how white supremacy operates through a range of geographically grounded practices. This paper makes an explicit link between work on settler colonialism and white innocence outlining how the burgeoning work on settler societies opens space to a productive engagement with the concept of innocence. I contend that white innocence as a concept needs to be more fully grounded in work that engages with settler colonialism and within the United States specifically. White innocence also inculcates the agency of whites in a society that is built through the explicit exploitation of persons of color as well as the way white institutions continue to expose persons of color to a range of negative impacts. This paper begins with a review of the literature on whiteness within geographic research. The last several years has seen a series of important interventions in the literature and geographers are increasingly turning to the concept of white supremacy to explain racism in 21st century U.S. society.

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